JULIA Donaldson is the outrageously talented, prize-winning author of some of the world's best-loved picture books including modern classics like the What The Ladybird Heard series, Zog and Stick Man.

Books from the former Children's Laureate are a staple in the home of every young child each bedtime, her best known tale The Gruffalo has sold more than 13 million copies and been translated into 65 languages and she has outsold even Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

So to see her perform some of these tales in person, becoming some of her characters, is something rather special.

I was in the audience at Theatre Royal Winchester with my two daughters Poppy and Alice, aged five and nearly two, as The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog opened for its short run in Hampshire, one of only two locations lucky enough to see it grace the stage. It closes after two more shows today.

This is clearly a labour of love for Julia and the rest of the talented cast of five, which includes her guitar playing husband and her sister. They seem to delight in the reaction of their enthusiastic young audience who were thrilled to see their favourite characters brought to life on stage in story, song and rhyme.

Plenty of Julia Donaldson stories have been adapted for the stage but they have all tended to focus on making one tale last the length of the show, whereas this is an action-packed hour focusing on several stories.

It opens with Room on the Broom with Donaldson as the witch of the show's title. This is an absolute delight, featuring all the favourite animals magically brought to life, plus a rather clever broom which appears through a trapdoor as if by magic.

Next up is the delightful tale of The Ugly Five, including the title's warthog.

Lesser known tales The Cook and The King and The Magic Paintbrush feature as well as a superb Superworm song featuring several children from the audience before The Gruffalo proves a spectacular finale.

Judging by the queue to meet the author and have books signed, the whole audience enjoyed the show as much as my delighted pair. A few songs from the other members of the cast as we were waiting was an added bonus following this firm family favourite.

The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog continues today with shows at 10.30am and 1.30pm.

Tickets: 01962 840440 or theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk